On Tuesday, July 14, the St. Louis Cardinals and their new ballpark Busch Stadium will host the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, with the must-watch Home Run Derby taking place the night before. Thousands of people from around the country will be flocking to St. Louis to see the festivities, but many of them will know the city for only two things, baseball and beer. And really, what else is there?
Well, plenty. Here’s a look at ten fun things to do in St. Louis when you’re not catching Albert Pujols’ home run balls.
10. Imo’s Pizza Serving up thin-crust, St. Louis-style pizza, Imo’s has been the city’s choice for pie for 45 years. Sure, many non-St. Louisans scoff at Imo’s use of provel cheese instead of mozzarella (sample review: “Provel is just wrong and it doesn’t belong anywhere near a pizza crust”), but you haven’t visited St. Louis until you’ve eaten at Imo’s.
9. The St. Louis Art Museum Located in the heart of Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum is home to one of the nation’s most underrated collections of art, with works by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and Gauguin. The best part? Admission is free.
8. The Missouri Botanical Garden The oldest botanical garden in the United States and a National Historic Landmark, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a relaxing, beautiful oasis located in south St. Louis. Don’t miss the Butterfly House, the Japanese walking garden called Seiwa-en, and the Climatron, which simulates the climate of a tropical rainforest.
7. The Gateway Arch Like a Parisian who makes a point to avoid the Eiffel Tower, I’ve been a St. Louis resident most of my life yet I’ve never been to the top of the Arch. The most well-known feature of the St. Louis skyline, the Arch was completed in 1965 to celebrate St. Louis’ status as a “Gateway to the West,” and it stands 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide. The trip to the top is (supposedly) not for the claustrophobic, but it no doubt affords a great view of the city and its surroundings.
6. Anheuser-Busch Brewery Take a free tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery and you’ll be able to check out the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, learn more than you ever wanted to know about hops and beechwood aging, and sample a glass or two of the product. Located in the historic Soulard neighborhood downtown.
5. Laclede’s Landing Cobblestone streets and converted warehouses give this riverfront food, drink, and entertainment district a truly unique feel. The St. Louis Fish Market is the place to go in St. Louis for seafood, The Big Bang is a spirited piano bar, and Morgan Street Brewery is a college hangout with great microbrews. Laclede’s Landing is within walking distance of Busch Stadium and the Arch.
4. Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard Don’t let the long lines deter you: They move quickly and they’re a small price to pay for St. Louis’ most well-known custard stand, notoriously packed after every Cardinals home game. Allow me to recommend the Cardinal Sin, a “sinfully” good cherry-chocolate-and-custard treat, or a Concrete, made of frozen custard so thick you could pave a driveway with it. Go here for locations.
3. St. Louis Zoo Dating all the way back to the 1904 World’s Fair, the St. Louis Zoo is one of the best free zoos in the country. You can get up close and personal with penguins and puffins, see elephants and cheetahs at the River’s Edge, and take a ride aboard the Zooline Railroad. A great, affordable destination for the whole family.
2. Fast Eddie’s Bon Air Just a 30-minute drive from downtown St. Louis, Fast Eddie’s of Alton, Illinois, proudly proclaims itself “the best bar in the Midwest, maybe even the world.” An exaggeration? Sure, but not by much. Cheap beer, 99-cent half-pound burgers, 29-cent peel-and-eat shrimp, and a huge new outdoor patio make Fast Eddie’s the place to go in the St. Louis area if you want to kick back for some cold suds and good grub.
Be sure to check out the pair of shoes once worn by the late Robert Wadlow, the 8’11” Alton native who is still known as the tallest man ever to live. (Note: You must be 21 or over to enter Fast Eddie’s.)
1. The City Museum The 600,000 square-foot museum is an “eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects.” It’s what Willy Wonka would have built if he hadn’t been so obsessed with candy.
You can crawl through an airplane fuselage in the playground, create your own art in Art City, and take a ride on one of several massive slides. One TripAdvisor reviewer sums the place up best: “Unsafe? Perhaps. Fun? Most Definitely.”